By HAL McCOY
Who are those impostors wearing Chicago Cubs uniforms? The Chicago Bears? The Minnesota Twins? OK, the Cincinnati Reds?
Once upon a time, the Chicago Bears football team was known as the Monsters of the Midway. This year, the Monsters of the Midway were the Chicago Cubs. On their way to 103 victories during the regular season they flattened the opposition like a chef making pancakes.
NOT NOW. FOR THE second straight game they were shut out by the Los Angeles Dodgers, breaking a record that goes back farther than 1908 when they last won a World Series. They’ve gone 18 straight scoreless innings, breaking the team post-season record of 16 set in 1906 against the Chicago White Sox.
They were shut out Tuesday night in Game Three, 6-0, by the Dodgers after they were shut out Sunday night, 1-0, in Game Two.
MEANWHILE, THE CINCINNATI Reds had a difficult decision to make in December of 2011 and the one they made hasn’t worked, hasn’t worked at all.
And the Dodgers are thankful for one piece of that decision — the Reds were willing to part with catcher Yasmani Grandal.
The Reds desperately wanted pitcher Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres and made a four-for-one deal to get him.
The Padres wanted a catcher and the Reds had two No. 1 draft pick catchers, Devin Mesoraco (2007) and Grandal (2010). Which one to include in the deal?
So the Reds sent Grandal, a switch-hitter, along with first baseman Yonder Alonso and pitchers Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger.
Latos was a one-year wonder for the Reds, but a disaster and a distraction as a childish occupant of the clubhouse.
Volquez, Alonso and Boxberger are all having moderate success with other teams. Grandal was traded by the Padres to the Dodgers two years ago and became an All-Star.
THIS SEASON GRANDAL hit 27 home runs and drove in 72 runs to help the Dodgers win the National League West. Mesoraco, the catcher the Reds kept, has played only 39 games with 106 plate appearances the past two season due to a litany of debilitating injuries.
And Grandal? On Tuesday night in Game Two of the National League Championship Series, he cracked a two-run home run in the fourth inning off Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, the centerpiece of the 6-0 Dodgers victory.
THE CUBS, DOWN two games to one, are in a deep sinkhole unless they can quickly discover where they misplaced their Louisville Sluggers and Mizunos.
After winning Game One in Wrigley Field, 8-4, on pinch-hitter Miguel Montero’s grand slam home run, the Cubs can’t find a run and are ready to bid for some on eBay.
They had no runs and two hits in Game Two against left hander Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen.
They had no runs and three hits in Game Three against left hander Rich Hill, Joe Blanton, Gran Dayton and Kenley Jansen.
So what has happened to the Whales of Wrigley, the team that won 103 games during the season and won the National League Central by 17 ½ games, pounding the opposition flat with big, loud bats.
And it was the Cubs who led the majors in pitching with a 3.15 earned run average while the Dodgers spent most of the season scrambling for pitchers because their rotation was ravaged by injuries.
That’s why they acquired Rich Hill from Oakland at the trade deadline and on Tuesday night his big-bend breaking pitches had the Cubs looking like the old Lovable Losers of recent vintage.
Hill went six innings and gave up no runs and two hits while Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, who pitched a no-hitter the last time he was in Dodger Stadium, gave up four runs and six hits in five innings.
Want to talk futility? In 11 of their 18 innings of the last two games the Cubs have gone down 1-2-3.